Conceived in 1991 by Perry Farrell as a farewell tour for Jane’s Addiction, the first iteration of Lollapalooza ran until 1997 when a partnership with concert promoters C3 Presents resuslted in Grant Park in Chicago becoming its permanent home in 2005. Now one of the longest-running in the US, the festival attracts close to half a million people each year, taking place over four days on Chicago’s lakefront.

With a line-up spanning hip-hop, electronic and every genre of rock, plug-ins from Waves Audio served a variety of performers and mixing consoles.

With some acts and their teams flying in and out the same day, engineers depend on the reliability and stability of their rigs. Mixing the sundown set on Friday night at, Janelle Monáe’s right-hand woman, FOH engineer Amanda Davis, has been touring a Waves user for ‘as long as I can remember’. Davis likes to keep it concise when it comes to effects processing, running the Waves MultiRack plug-in host with a SoundGrid Impact Server-C through DMI cards on her trusty DiGiCo SD10. ‘For a lot of inputs I’ve been sticking to my regulars like the H-Comp,’ she says. ‘On the bass, I’ve also incorporated the dbx 160 compressor. And on my LR I have the API 2500 – there’s something about it that just pushes my mix out past the PA. I barely touch any parameters on the API 2500, but as soon as I engage it everything just comes to life!’

For Monáe’s vocals, Davis uses the Renaissance plug-ins – R-EQ, R-Compressor and R-Vox. ‘On my background vocals, I also use the PuigChild Compressor along with the R-Vox. For one song only, I add the GTR onto the vocal chain to give me a distortion effect. Lately, I’ve been trying this with the OneKnob Driver as an alternative. But the main thing is the R-Vox – it just puts the vocal right where I need it in the mix. I go pretty aggressive, almost to the point where it’s too much; but I’d rather have to dial back than have a mix without the main attraction being heard.’

FOH engineer Phil GornellFOH engineer Phil Gornell’s aim is to recreate the precision sound of a studio recording in a live setting for Bring Me the Horizon. Concerned for many years about the ability to replicate that amount of DSP processing in a delicate live environment, ‘The F6 Dynamic EQ is first in my chain for a lot of channels and groups,’ he explains. ‘It’s essential for cleaning them up before I can process them further. Finding what resonates in an ugly way in each room, and then cleaning it up so I can amplify it, without becoming too harsh or out of control in each room – that’s key to me. Besides the F6, I’m using the C6, H Delay, Torque, SSL E-Channel, H-Reverb, TrueVerb, the OneKnob Series, the MV2 comp, some of the CLA signature plug-ins – CLA Vocals, CLA Effects, and CLA Bass – as well as the Primary Source Expander (PSE).’

‘Waves Torque is a drum pitch shifter, but I’m using it on vocal effects to give each effect a little pitch shift, and really thicken up the returns. Also MV2 on snare to retain those “triggered” drum velocities that people are so used to hearing. I’ve started using the SSL E-Channel after my reverbs to sculpt the sound of the returns coming into the console. The ‘CLA Deep Snare’ preset gives a thick consistent return on snare drums and makes the snare pop.’

A 17-year veteran in the live sound business, Charles Izzo has been using Waves tools professionally for over a decade. ‘I like the consistency, the comfort of knowing that no matter where I am in the world, no matter the type of show, no matter if I’m on FOH or monitors, when I put my settings into these plug-ins, they will perform exactly as I expect them to.’

Charles IzzoMixing monitors for Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino, Izzo is constantly optimising his effects chains, going for that solid dynamic sound that he feels only studio classics can deliver.

‘The Studio Classics Collection bundle, with the Waves SSL and API plug-ins, is used on pretty much any show that I mix. Having the colouring and responsiveness of those plug-ins makes a huge difference for me, whether it’s at FOH or monitors.

‘I have a standard vocal chain that I use for most artists,’ he continues. ‘If I have the SSL Live console, I begin with the console preamp and EQ. On other consoles, I normally use the Waves SSL G-Channel plug-in. From there it goes into an original Empirical Labs Distressor – or if I don’t have a Distressor it’s always a Waves CLA-2A plug-in. After that I have the C6 multiband comp to fine-tune the dynamics, and finally I go into an NLS Non-Linear Summerfor some popping colour.’

When processing instruments: ‘On guitars, the Renaissance Axx is straightforward and made for guitars. I also use the NLS Non-Linear Summer to add some analogue character to Fractals or other guitar modelling rigs; on bass I will usually use a CLA-76 or CLA-3A depending on the player. Doing FOH I also use a C6 Multiband Compressor with the kick drum side-chained to it; when used on keys, the Vitamin Sonic Enhancer is great for moulding key sounds, and LoAir is really nice on bass synths, especially when you really want to make a room shake.

‘In addition, I use InPhase anywhere I have open mics with close proximity to one another.’

Having played more than 100 shows together, FOH engineer Kenny Sellars and Twenty One Pilots frontman Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun have covered many musical genres and sound design explorations.

‘This tour is full of surprises – TOP always keeps me on my toes,’ Sellars says. ‘From the drummer deciding to sit on the singer’s shoulders and sing, to the singer disappearing and reappearing in the 300 level of an arena, I just hang on for the ride. But I also have the privilege of collaborating with the artists who wrote the albums and working with them on every nuance of the music and how it should translate live.

‘I have been using the F6 dynamic EQ, JJP Drums, LoAir, MaxxVolume, Manny Marroquin Distortion, C6, GEQ, H-Delay, and H-Reverb; those are my go-tos this time. And I can’t say enough about CLA Bass: complete control of the bass in my shows.

Kenny Sellars mixing Twenty One Pilots‘I find that combining my DiGiCo SD5 console’s dymamic EQ and comps with the F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ and MaxxVolume allows me to keep the vocal in-my-face but not overpowering. Whether [Tyler] is whispering, rapping, singing or screaming, this combo keeps his vocal right where I need it. I typically use the console’s dynamic EQ to control the screams, and then MaxxVolume to level out the vocal, and the F6 to shape the overall tone.

‘I love using the Waves GEQ Graphic Equalizer plug-in with RTA – especially helpful when I’m checking during an opener or another stage playing at a festival. It allows me to not only listen but also visualize my inputs. Flexibility of Waves is what makes it a staple in live sound. Every time I come up with an idea or am asked to create something, there’s a set of tools for it.’

‘My chain is a Puigchild 660 into F6 into C6 into the NS1 Noise Suppressor, into parallel group compression, and finally into the PuigChild 660 compressor again,’ says FOH engineer Travis Bing, manning the board for country singer/songwriter Kacey Musgraves. ‘PuigChild is a constant for me on vocals, and the F6 has become a strong go-to as well: it’s like the C6 on steroids – so versatile and can achieve so much so quickly. I use the PSE (Primary Source Expander) on my background vocal groups. I have five background singers, so I’ve got to do something to suppress those open mics whenever I can.

‘The plug-ins that I constantly go back to are CLA-76 on the kick, PuigChild 660 on vocals, and API 2500 for everything else I can. And I always use the C6 Multiband Compressor on the master bus as kind of a last-step safeguard: During soundcheck I’ll pinpoint a couple of bad spots in the room and set compression points at those frequencies – so as I dig into the mix, these bad spots don’t get worse. Plug-ins for me are the icing on the cake. I do believe that amazing sounds should come from the source whenever possible, so if something feels off tonally, I’d first walk up to the stage, listen to the source and change what I need up there. Then come the plug-ins: I’ll get the kick sounding good at the source – then I’ll throw a CLA-76 to get it sounding even better.’


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    Phil Millross has been appointed by UK-based loudspeaker manufacturer PMC as Business Development Manager for Studio Products in the UK and Ireland. Formerly a Senior Design Engineer, Millross has been...
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